Record bid for crypt near Monroe


It was a day of ups and downs when the online bidding ended Monday for the crypt above Marilyn Monroe.

Elsie Poncher, whose husband Richard Poncher is entombed in the crypt at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, said she wanted to sell it to pay off the more than $1-million mortgage on her Beverly Hills home.

A bidder from Japan appeared to be the winner of the EBay auction, with an offer of $4,602,100 -- $100 more than the next highest bid.


But several hours after being sent an invoice, the bidder e-mailed Poncher’s representative saying, “I am awfully sorry, but I need to cancel this because of the paying problem.”

Steve Miller, a mortgage broker and banker who is representing Poncher, said he had e-mailed the 11 other bidders who offered at least $4.5 million for the crypt, giving them 24 hours to make an offer. He said that if the right offer isn’t made, he and Poncher may try to find another way to sell the crypt.

No one from EBay could be reached for comment Monday night. Miller said EBay had been vetting the bidders and had cancelled several offers it considered bogus.

The bidding started at $500,000 on Aug. 14, escalated to $1 million two days later and then to more than $4.5 million Aug. 17. There were 21 bids. The closing bid would have made the crypt one of the most expensive items ever sold on EBay. In 2001, a Gulfstream II jet went for $4.9 million, according to the online auction site.

Richard Poncher, who was an entrepreneur who owned a number of companies, died 23 years ago at 81.

He bought the crypt from New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio when the ballplayer was in the midst of his divorce from Monroe in 1954.


The Ponchers were at the Regency Hotel in New York when DiMaggio asked her husband, “You want to buy two crypts?”

Richard Poncher bought the one above Monroe, where he is -- for the moment -- entombed, and one next to it, where his widow was to one day spend eternity.

“To the man who gave us everything and more,” says the plaque on Poncher’s crypt. And indeed, he has continued to provide.

Elsie Poncher, who is in her 70s, plans to move her husband’s remains to the crypt designated for her, and when the time comes, she’ll be cremated. She said that when her husband was dying, he made a request. “He said, ‘If I croak, if you don’t put me upside down over Marilyn, I’ll haunt you the rest of my life.’ ”

After the funeral, Poncher said, she conveyed her husband’s wish to the funeral director. “I was standing right there, and he turned him over,” she said.

The cemetery, hidden away off Glendon Avenue, is the final resting spot for many celebrities, among them Natalie Wood, Dean Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Merv Griffin, Mel Torme, Truman Capote and Farrah Fawcett.

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner bought the crypt next to Monroe’s in 1992 for $75,000. There is an unoccupied crypt in the Corridor of Memories mausoleum where Monroe and Poncher are entombed that the cemetery is selling for $250,000.

Miller said some of the e-mails he has received during the auction have been bizarre.

“I get comments from people thinking [Poncher’s] rising from the dead,” Miller said. “You can’t believe the stuff I’m getting here.”